Marcus Littles (above) committed to George Washington on a visit to the school this past weekend. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Corey Sharp (@ByCoreySharp)
When Marcus Littles was a freshman at Academy New Church, he had a difficult time controlling his diet.
“There were buffets whenever, WaWa down the street,” he said. “There was just food everywhere.”
Now a senior in high school at Neumann-Goretti, Littles is still in a battle with his weight -- but it’s a battle he’s starting to learn how to win. And soon enough, he’s going to have some professional help.
The 6-foot-9, 260-pound forward committed to George Washington over the weekend, after the Colonials’ coaches pitched him on -- among other things -- a support staff that would help him stay in the shape he needs to be a productive college basketball player.
“He’s going to have a strength coach and conditioning coach attached to him 24/7,” Neumann-Goretti head coach Carl Arrigale said. “They’re going to be monitoring his diet, lifting, running, everything.”
Littles announced his decision to further his education and basketball career over the weekend, after a visit to the school. He went bowling with the team, tried various restaurants, and took in the iconic monuments D.C has to offer.
“Going down there, I already started to build a relationship with coach for about two months prior and they just seemed real cool,” Littles said. “The visit just sealed the deal.”
George Washington initially reached out to Littles in July, while he was playing on the Under Armour circuit with WeR1, to let him know they were watching. The relationship between Littles and the coaching staff began to progress as the summer did, and the Colonials made the senior a priority in mid-August.
“When they first called me, they were just [saying] ‘you played hard even when things don’t go the best, you’ve got a good motor, once we get you in shape, you’re going to be a great player for us,’” Littles said. “The relationship [kept] building. I was getting messages from them all the time and calls... ‘How are you doing?’ Things of that nature. Calling my mom, my family.”
Littles consulted with his family -- who went on the visit as well -- before he made his decision. His mother, a fifth grade teacher at Solis-Cohen Elementary School in Northeast Philadelphia, and father were on board with their son’s choice.
“My mom, she’s a school teacher, so [when I told her] ‘GW’ [she] was like ‘academics!’ ... and going wild,” the senior said. “A lot of networking, you’re in the middle of D.C., so she loved it. My dad really just goes with me. If I think it’s right, then he’s just going to be there to support me.”
The Colonials are coached by Maurice Joseph, who is entering his second season. The team finished 20-14 overall last season, including a 10-8 record in the Atlantic 10 conference, and were knocked out in the quarters of last year’s A-10 Tournament by Richmond.
Littles will be in competition with three returning forwards next season. Javier Langarcia, a 6-9, 180 pound freshman for the Colonials, shot over 46 percent from three for his club team in his native Spain. Luker Sasser, a sophomore transfer from Charlotte, has yet to log a second of collegiate action. Arnaldo Toro, a 6-8 sophomore, played 15 minutes a game last year and was primarily a rebounder.
Littles will have his own niche because he strictly plays on the block.
“They know Marcus is a true low-post player, they know he’s a ball-screen guy and that type of thing,” Arrigale said. “They have a vision for him, they have a plan for him.”
Littles still has some unfinished business at Neumann to take care of before heading south. The Saints finished 24-7 last season, winning the PIAA Class 3A championship for the fourth time in a row and seventh time in eight years. But the Catholic League championship went against them for the third year in a row, as they lost to Archbishop Wood in what was the Saints’ ninth consecutive PCL finals appearance; they were victorious in the first six.
And with the loss of Quade Green, who’s donning Wildcat blue in Kentucky, and Dhamir Cosby-Rountree, now with Villanova, Littles believes the outside world is counting his team out.
“We’re Neumann, so I feel [there’s] always a target on our back no matter who we have,” he said. “But now that they’re gone, it’s just like ‘you won’t be this, you won’t be that,’ so that’s really a push. We’re in the gym everyday just like everybody else. I can’t even describe how hungry we are.”